Archive for the ‘Online resources’ Category

Browsing Booth

December 20th, 2013 by Catherine McIntyre, Archives Assistant

The catalogue for the Booth collection is now available on the Archives online catalogue. It has long been available to search via the Booth Online Archive, but is now available to browse and view in its full hierarchical structure on the Archives catalogue.

Charles Booth undertook a survey into the life and labour of the people of London, the work for which started in 1886 and took until 1903, culminating in the publication of 17 volumes of results. The Booth collection held at LSE Archives & Special Collections contains the original survey materials, including the “poverty maps” and survey notebooks.


Booth Poverty Map, Sheet 6 (BOOTH/E/1/6)

There were three focus areas of the investigation: poverty, industry and religious influences. The team of investigators, which included Beatrice Potter (later Webb) and Clara Collett, interviewed School Board visitors, employers, trades union leaders and ministers. The collection also contains questionnaires returned by employers and reports on visits to churches.

The collection is a wealth of information on the life and work of London’s inhabitants at the end of the Victorian era. It is a popular resource for family history researchers whose ancestors lived and worked in the industries and geographical areas covered by the survey. The poverty maps have been featured in the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ series, most recently with Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman discovering the poverty his Bethnal Green ancestors would have lived in. Other interesting sources of information in the collection include the police notebooks, which contain reports of investigators’ walks with policemen around their beats and interviews with the policemen about the locations in which they work. They paint a vivid picture of life and conditions of the time:

Again south & into Albion Square. Good 2 1/2 storied houses round it, but a very badly kept square. No gates, no flowers, only mud heaps & trenches dug by street boys who were playing in them. 40 or 50 year old trees, remnants of former care, & a dilapidated iron railing round were the only things to show it had once been cared for.

- George H. Duckworth, Walk with Inspector James Flanagan, District 13 (South Hackney and Hackney), 2nd September 1897, BOOTH/B/347.

The collection is also used by academic researchers studying the social, economic and industrial history of the period, or the research methods used to collect data, as well as geographers interested in the classification scheme used to describe the social status of particular streets.

A browse of the catalogue is as rewarding as searching for something (a street, a name, a business) so please do go and have a look and see what you can discover. Click on the + symbols to expand the hierarchy for each series and then click on the file titles to view catalogue records for each file.

The police notebooks, Stepney Union casebooks and some material relating to the Jewish community have been digitised and are available here: police notebooks, Stepney Union casebooks/Jewish material. The 12 maps descriptive of poverty have been digitised and are available to browse and search.

This will be the last blog post from me as I am leaving LSE Library today. I do hope my posts have been interesting and informative to read. Have a merry Christmas everyone!

Five Years of Flickr Commons

January 18th, 2013 by Catherine McIntyre, Archives Assistant
Lunch Hour Dance, 1920 (IMAGELIBRARY/778)

Lunch Hour Dance, 1920 (IMAGELIBRARY/778)

The Flickr Commons is celebrating an amazing five years since its inception and The Library of Congress have been organising activities to commemorate the anniversary. I would highly recommend a browse through the galleries the LOC have created, which feature the top-viewed, or most-favourited, or most-commented on photographs submitted by the Commons members.

Flickr is one of the ways that allow us to make parts of our collections accessible to users who might not be able to visit us. It also helps promote them in a different way and hopefully reach people who might not think to look to us for their needs. We have been on Flickr as Commons members for nearly four years now and have uploaded just over 1,300 pictures to our account. Many of our uploads were part of the LSE: A History in Pictures project and give an insight into both special and everyday moments in the history of the LSE. Other uploads include 19th century political posters, Soviet posters (childcare and political) and the images from the social documentary book ‘Street Life in London’. Last summer I also finished adding out of copyright images and those with no known copyright restrictions that we have scanned from our collections and we will continue to add more that we scan on an ad-hoc basis.

Harriet Taylor, c1830

Harriet Taylor, c1830 (IMAGELIBRARY/1350)

I find it fascinating to see which images are popular with users and inspire comments, “favorites” and the addition of tags. As participators in the Flickr Commons project we encourage users to add to our descriptions of the images with comments and tags. In terms of views, the top 25 most-viewed images list is dominated by the ‘Street Life…’ photographs, although Nelson Mandela gets a look-in at #9. Peculiarly, ‘The Street Locksmith’ and its accompanying extract describing the moral ethics of making keys, is our most-viewed image, clocking up over 8,500 views. Ignoring the ‘Street Life…’ images, other highly-viewed images include runners at an early LSE sports day, Sidney Webb reading at Bryans Ground, Library Staff in the 1990s and Edmund Dene Morel (with his fabulous moustache).

E. D. Morel, c1905 (IMAGELIBRARY/1355)

E. D. Morel, c1905 (IMAGELIBRARY/1355)

The Street Locksmith (R(SR)/1146)

'The Street Locksmith' (R(SR)/1146)

Flickr users can add other photos on the site as their favourites and then see them all in one place via their profile. This would seem a more assertive representation of popularity than the amount of views a picture has and it is interesting to see that the list of our photos most-“favourited” by others is also dominated by the ‘Street Life…’ images, but provides a little more variety. London Nomades is the in the #1 spot with 60 people adding it as a favourite; ‘Progressive and Moderate – The Motive Spirit’, one of our London County Council election posters, at #4 with 45 people adding it as a favourite and Student Union Officer Kathleen Libby at #7 with 26 people adding it as a favourite.

Kathleen Libby - Vice-President, Students Union 1934-1935 (IMAGELIBRARY/768)

Kathleen Libby - Vice-President, Students' Union 1934-1935 (IMAGELIBRARY/768)

Making our images available like this is a really rewarding way of sharing our collections with a much wider audience than they would get sitting in the files in our strongroom. It also allows for interesting user interaction in a way that someone looking at a photograph in the reading room might not encourage. So please feel free to spend some time on our Flickr photostream, browsing, reading descriptions, commenting, tagging and favouriting.

For more celebrations from the participating institutions, check out the discussions thread in the Flickr Commons group.

70th anniversary of the Beveridge Report: more documents online

November 29th, 2012 by Nick White, Assistant Archivist

The report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services (Cmd 6404), commonly known as the Beveridge Report, was published on 1 December 1942. To mark this event more documents from the Beveridge papers held here at LSE have been digitised and are available online via the Archives catalogue:

  • First draft of the Beveridge Report, c.July 1941 (BEVERIDGE/9A/41/1)
  • BBC Postscript, script for talk on the Beveridge Report, 2 December 1942 (BEVERIDGE/9B/55/1)
  • “Social security and the state”, script of talk with Maurice Webb for Westminster and Beyond, 7 December 1942 (BEVERIDGE/9B/55/1)
  • Diary of visit to the USA and Canada, 2 May – 15 July 1943 (BEVERIDGE/11/36)
  • “The health aspects of social security in Britain”, summary of address by Beveridge at the Hotel Waldorf Astoria, 3 June 1943 (BEVERIDGE/11/31/1)
  • “Security with freedom”, summary of address to the English Speaking Union, 4 June 1943 (BEVERIDGE/11/35)
  • “Some questions on the Beveridge Report”, points from address at United Nations lecture at Washington, 5 July 1943 (BEVERIDGE/11/35)
  • “Can unemployment be prevented?”, script of talk by Beveridge, BBC broadcast on 11 October 1943 (BEVERIDGE/9B/56)
  • “Beveridge on Beveridge: recent speeches of Sir William Beveridge”, pamphlet published by the Social Security League, c.1943 (BEVERIDGE/9A/79)
  • “Full employment in a free society: a summary”, pamphlet by Beveridge, November 1944 (BEVERIDGE/9A/79)
  • “The Beveridge Plan ten years after”, summary of two lectures at Rodding, Jutland, 3-4 August 1953 (BEVERIDGE/9B/40/2).
  • “]Illustration from the pamphlet, "Beveridge on Beveridge: recent speeches of Sir William Beveridge", published by the Social Security League, [1944]

    Illustration from the pamphlet, "Beveridge on Beveridge: recent speeches of Sir William Beveridge", published by the Social Security League, [1944

    Beveridge’s philosophy is particularly outlined when he was interviewed by Maurice Webb on “Westminster and Beyond” on 7 December 1942:

    • “Government”, Beveridge says, “is a means not an end and the object of government is, or should be, the happiness of citizens. They can’t be happy if they are in need”
    • He defines social security in a very narrow sense: “security of income up to a minimum”, but that “social security in my sense cannot be satisfactory unless you also maintain employment and avoid mass unemployment and also do many other things that are part of a full social policy”
    • He is asked, “What part is the State to play in social security?”. He replies, “… social security must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual, that the State’s function is to establish a national minimum, but to leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family”
    • The interviewer says, “I suppose you’d say that most men’s wages now are enough for themselves and a wife and at least one child”. Beveridge replies, “I believe that in fact they are and I’m certain that they ought to be – by minimum wage legislation if necessary”
    • Beveridge is also asked about what the national minimum, or subsistence level actually meant: “The rate of subsistence benefit of £2 a week for man and wife as I’ve worked it out in my Report is meant to cover food, clothing, fuel and rent. The State might say that everyone at all times ought to be able as well to have a radio or a paper or tobacco, or might raise its ideas as to what was needed for clothing or fuel… It can change and improve like everything else in a progressive society”

    William Beveridge welcomes new LSE students… in 1921-36

    October 11th, 2012 by Nick White, Assistant Archivist

    A file of addresses to new students by former LSE Director William Beveridge has recently been digitised and is now available online via the Archives catalogue.

    The documents (in BEVERIDGE/5/10) vary in detail from sketchy notes to detailed transcriptions of what he was due to say, and many of them are annotated by Beveridge himself. Below are a few extracts from the addresses:

    • On the spirit of adventure and the tradition of tolerance (speech made on 13 October 1930, BEVERIDGE/5/10/15):

    “The life of the School has always been a life of adventure, the breaking into new fields of study and the attacking of old problems by new methods…

    The tradition of the School is and always has been one of tolerance and one of free thought and speech. Its Constitution lays down that none of the teachers here may suffer any dishonour for the expression of any opinion; with this privilege comes an obligation of honour applying to all the School, whether teachers or taught, to make it clear that the School itself has no colour, political or economic, but is an impartial ground where all may meet. Tolerance indeed is forced upon us by the infinite variety of those who form our body; men and women of other races, creeds and backgrounds, and of other political and economic preconceptions”.

    He adds that there is still plenty of room left for the spirit of adventure as, “It is in the fields of economic and political statesmanship, even more than in those of natural science, that the great discoveries are most needed and waiting to be made”.

    William Beveridge playing tennis at Banstead, c1919

    William Beveridge playing tennis at Banstead, c1919

    • On the conflict between two unselfish motives, the “reforming spirit” and the “scientific spirit” (5 October 1932, BEVERIDGE/5/10/19)

    “No one will deny that for the reforming spirit there is ample scope in the world to-day. These are not easy times for anyone. Man seems to be making a mess of his planet; to be wasting his own powers and Nature’s bounty. Because of this it is natural that many old constitutions and cherished institutions, many doctrines that once seemed unassailable, are now on trial…”.

    “Your main business here is to acquire the scientific spirit in economic and political studies. You will not find that either inhuman or unprofitable.
    In the first place, the pursuit of knowledge is itself an absorbing passion…
    In the second place, knowledge is the indispensable preliminary to effective reform…”.

    “You are here for the most part to learn to do better in practical life. For the reasons I have given, I want to suggest that in spite of the urgent call, or indeed because of the urgent recurring calls, of the world to the service of the reforming spirit, there is need for you at the moment to be slightly deaf to that call. Your first business is to serve the scientific spirit, to get as the basis of all that you may do in the world hereafter as much knowledge as possible for its own sake, as much understanding as possible of the economic and political institutions, without considering all the time as yet how you would like to change them, what judgment you would pass upon them.

    I hope for the sake of the world that there is plenty in you of reforming spirit. For there is much to be done. In following that spirit, as in carving out your own careers, you will constantly in after life find yourselves taking sides, joining parties, attacking opponents, making public speeches, pretending to know more than you do, taking decisions without knowing, taking risks. If when you go out into the practical world you do not take some risks and at need make mistakes, you will not make anything.

    But with the scientific spirit none of these things fit. To know, to know the limits of your knowledge, to place truth above parties and sides, to speak only when sure. These are its first principles. It is the scientific spirit that you must seek here; service to the reforming spirit if that conflicts with it you should postpone.

    If you miss other things here, you miss what may be valuable. If you miss that, you miss what is vital”.

    School Photograph, June 1929

    School Photograph, June 1929

    • Beveridge on the need for the application of reason to human affairs (10 October 1934, BEVERIDGE/5/10/24)

    “In one sense the School is based on tremendous optimism, on the belief that by taking thought one can master the complex workings of society, and make society work better in the future than it has worked in the past. But as we are optimistic about the possibility of man mastering his fate in this way, so we must realise the conditions of his doing so – patience, detachment, industry, suspension of judgment until one is sure, readiness to face facts, readiness to learn and change your views – everything for which the word “science” stands. To come here with a ready made set of fixed opinions on the nature of society, to acquire such opinions in the first few months is to waste the rest of your time in this place. We believe in the application of reason to human affairs, but it must be reason, not prejudice, not emotion – whether of hatred or of love. That is the common element of the School: belief in the application of reason to human affairs, belief that it is a difficult and interesting, but not an impossible task”.

    Charlotte and George Bernard Shaw seated centre, the Webbs seated either side. Leaving for a trip to Russia. The School was founded by the Webbs, G B Shaw and Graham Wallas in 1895. The Shaw Library, in the Founders Room was named after Charlotte Shaw.

    Charlotte and George Bernard Shaw seated centre, the Webbs seated either side. Leaving for a trip to Russia in 1932. The School was founded by the Webbs, G B Shaw and Graham Wallas in 1895. The Shaw Library, in the Founders Room, was named after Charlotte Shaw.

    •   On Beatrice and Sidney Webb and their vision of LSE (9 October 1935, BEVERIDGE/5/10/26)

    This speech was made in the Founders Room which “commemorates the Webbs, whose portrait you see behind me – the Founders of the School of which you have just become members. The portrait was a present to the Webbs on their joint 70th birthday six years ago; they are not, I believe really the same age, but they keep their birthday and their age as the mean of their two real ages. The School is among the youngest of the great University institutions of this country – just forty years old this year, and its founders are still vigorous and working as hard as ever – in that room as you see it in the picture – complete with the dog”.

    Beveridge was not able to come to the School to undertake his first degree as in 1897, “when I was at the age to go to a University as an undergraduate, the School did exist indeed; but it was not part of the University of London; the School offered no regular course for University degrees; our first graduate dates from 1903. In 1897 I should have found the School, had I found it, filling half of one house in Adelphi Terrace, just rejoicing at having left the four rooms in which it began for that larger territory.

    All that you are going to get in this place in the next few years you will owe to the Webbs. I hope you will remember this whenever you come to this room, and treat it with the respect which is due to those great figures. I’d like you to feel always something of the romance of the beginning of this School”. He explains that the School was founded in October 1895 on a “small legacy and an idea in the mind of the Webbs”.

    “What was this idea? This idea of the Webbs? The idea was a belief in the application of reason to human relations. A belief that reason applied to human affairs might make it possible for us ultimately to manage them better, as reason applied to nature has enabled us to master so much of nature. Their general idea was belief in the possibility and the need for a Science of Society…”.

    Fabian Society catalogue now online!

    August 6th, 2012 by Ellie Robinson

    We are happy to announce that the full catalogue for the Fabian Society is now available to search online. The additional records include files deposited after the first major cataloguing work was done (sections A-M), and have been listed by year of accession, so Fabian Society/1982, /1984, /1990 and /1994. In addition recent deposits of Fabian Society print material have been tidied up into one new section, Fabian Society/N.

    The Fabian Society catalogue is now rather large with over 5,000 records. One of the easiest ways to search within the catalogue is to use our Advanced Search page, then you can utilise the wildcard function in the reference number field to search just the Fabian Society by typing in (without quotes) “Fabian Society/*” in the Ref No field, and the term you want to search for (e.g. Webb) in the Any Text field and click search. This works with all our other catalogues if you just want to search within them – just type the first part of the reference number you wish to search in and follow it with /*.

    You may notice that the new sections of the catalogue have only been catalogued very lightly. We thought it was better to get the full catalogue online sooner rather than later, with the hope that additional cataloguing work (e.g. arrangement and indexing) will take place when resources are available. We anticipate getting a large amount of born-digital material from the Fabians later on this year, so watch this space for further developments!

    Down on District 45: Deptford

    June 8th, 2012 by Andy Jack, LSE Digital Library

    BBC Two series explores social history of London using the Booth maps as a starting point

    On Wednesday I watched the first part of the new BBC Two series The Secret History of Our Streets. The episode is currently available on the BBC iPlayer if you would like to watch it for yourself. The first in the six part series focused on the human story of Deptford High Street. We are told that over the course of the last 125 years the area has lost both its wealth and the tight, familial community that gave life to it. The story is one of demolitions, compulsory purchase orders, modernist concrete monoliths and a community ravaged by post-war social experimentation. It isn’t the most uplifting viewing, but the insight into an area only a handful of miles from the affluence of London’s banking district is quite fascinating.

    There will be five more programmes in the series all focusing on a particular street.  Coming up next will be Camberwell Grove.

    Sheet 12 of 12

    Map Descriptive of London Poverty, 1898-9 Sheet 12 of 12

    Charles Booth

    The series starting point is the Charles Booth maps and notebooks which were produced as part of the the survey into life and labour in London (1886-1903). Beatrice Potter (later to become Beatrice Webb and founding member of the LSE) attended the first meeting of Charles Booth’s Board of Statistical Research on 17th April, 1886 and recorded the occasion in her diary:

    Charles Booth’s first meeting of the Board of Statistical Research at his London office. Object of the Committee is to get a fair picture of the whole of London society – the 4,000,000 – by district and employment, the two methods to be based on census returns. At present Charles Booth is the sole worker in this gigantic undertaking. I intend to do a little bit of it while I am in London, not only to keep the Society alive, but to keep me in touch with actual facts so as to limit my study of the past to that part of it useful in the understanding of the present.”

    Extract taken from Beatrice Webb’s diaries in LSE Digital Library

    The study was certainly an ambitious undertaking covering 4 million people and over 10,000 streets, but for a self-confessed ‘man of investigation’ it must of been personally very satisfying.

    Walk with Inspector Gummer and Sergeant Goddard, 18 July 1899

    Pages from one of the Booth notebooks: 'Walk with Inspector Gummer and Sergeant Goddard, 18 July 1899'

    Deptford: District 45

    It was 13 years into the study that the researchers turned their attention to Deptford and what they found will likely be quite surprising to the modern reader. The Booth maps, an early example of social cartography,  used colour coding to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants.  This ‘Poverty Classification’ applied to 19th century Deptford shows that the High Street was considered ‘Middle class. Well-to-do’ (Red). However, some of the side streets such as Hales street were classified by the Booth study at the very bottom of the scale both ‘Vicious, semi-criminal’ and ‘Very poor, casual. Chronic want’. (Black and Blue). In modern day Booth style maps the area is considered to be at the wrong end of the deprivation scale (but far from hopeless as many of the lively local bloggers will tell you).  This is quite a turnaround over the course of the last 100 years and it is exactly that which the programme is exploring.

    Booth Poverty Map: a focus on Deptford High Street

    Booth Poverty Map: a focus on Deptford High Street

    Through the recollections of local people and retired council staff we begin to understand how this came about. The questions still remain around why, with some believing ‘they’ just had it in for Deptford. The episode suggested to me that it was the case of the State wanting to sweep away the past in a brave new post-war world. This involved embracing modernist architectural ideas of a machine-like city, ordered and efficient, and one we might consider today as quite dehumanised and robotic.

    Parts of Deptford were classified as slums and in the 1960s and 1970s demolished to make way for housing estates that are still a familiar site across London today.  Apparently, by a quirk of fate, some homes were spared demolition and still remain. From an online view of two streets in the Deptford area – and mentioned in the programme – we can get an idea of what changed. For example, Albury Street appears to still have the buildings of Booth’s time whereas Reginald Road clearly hasn’t. I know which type of housing I personally prefer to both look at and live in…nowadays.

    Booth at the LSE

    At LSE  we hold a considerable collection of material relating to the Booth study and we also host the Charles Booth Online Archive where it is possible to view a digital version of the map and compare it with a more recent street map. It is also possible to view some of the digitised police notebooks and see for yourself what the researchers recorded on their guided tours of the community.

    PhoneBooth on Mobile Devices

    We are also currently undertaking an innovative project with Edina, part funded by JISC, to mobilise the Booth maps and digitised notebooks for delivery to mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones. The PhoneBooth project will enable people to retrieve nearby notebook entries for reading in the actual location to which the historic observations occurred. If your street existed 100 years ago and is on Booth’s maps then you will be able to find out whether the area was a den of iniquity or, perhaps part of a well-heeled suburb. You will also be able to read the police commentary on the inhabitants and understand in what ways, if any, your part of London has changed since the epic Booth study.

    One of the prototype proofs-of-concept for the PhoneBooth project

    One of the prototype proofs-of-concept for the PhoneBooth project

    I’m looking forward to the next installment of the series now and particularly the conversations about the programme on the web. The first episode encouraged a lot of blogging and tweeting which is certainly adding a lot more to the BBC’s interpretation as well as exposing many more stories and memories from ex and current residents alike.

    Further information

    The PhoneBooth project blog contains more detailed information about the pedagogical and technological aims of the project and includes updates on progress.
    PhoneBooth will be available in July/August 2012.